Still Not Sure

Posted: October 15, 2009 in Fiction

I still haven’t decided what I’m calling this thing, but it’s gonna be fun, regardless. I know amnesia is a terribly clichéd way to start things, but here we are anyway. Last time, I titled it ‘Edited Not To Suck,’ and apparently this sent the wrong message. No one said it sucked except me. The readers I do hear from are very supportive, and I’m pleasantly surprised that there is such thing as constructive criticism on the internets.

Without thinking, she forced her way into the press of humanity as it tried to squeeze its way off of the airplane. The smells of too much perfume or cologne mingled with the smell of not enough of either, and Eve’s nose wrinkled with displeasure. She allowed the flow of human bodies to carry her out of the plane and through the square tube of the gate. As they passed through the aperture and onto the concourse, the people spread out to get around each other.

As Eve stepped out on to the concourse, her phone started to ring. She jumped at the sound; she was under the impression that it was on silent. Then again, as far as she could remember, phones didn’t tell amnesiacs they had no luggage either. She reached into the pocket of the oversized coat and pulled out the phone. It went silent, but the screen was flashing red, with black lettering that took up the entire screen. It said “RUN.” As she read it, a massive hand clamped on to her shoulder. Fingers like bratwurst engulfed the entire joint and tightened like a bench vise. Eve twisted and tried to pull free, but succeeded only in sending pain shooting through her collarbone. A voice like thunder heard through gravel said, “Struggling will only make this worse for you.”

She risked a glance at the phone again. “You’ll have another chance,” it said. She did her best to slip the device back into her pocket as she looked up at her captor. He was easily seven feet tall, and five feet wide at the shoulders. Even from under a poorly fitted black suit, she could tell that he was a caricature of a bodybuilder. He was covered in rippling muscle and his head seemed to begin right at his shoulders. The skin tone was all wrong though. He was tan, but his complexion was so waxy that he could have been a flesh-toned crayon. Behind a set of cheap sunglasses, his eyes… Eve was pretty sure that the thing had no eyes, or even eye sockets.

“We’re going this way,” he rumbled. Eve was still staring up at him, and the man’s mouth didn’t move, or even open. She could feel her heart pound, and her mouth tasted of copper. The big man, if indeed it was a man, moved her forward with his hand still locked on her shoulder. He guided her over toward one of the moving walkways. They stepped on, and still the giant did not release his grip on her shoulder. Eve put her hand on the rail out of habit, but the big man goaded her onward. They cruised along the walkway, and Eve stumbled slightly as she stepped off onto stationary ground again. She could see another mountain of a man in a similar cheap suit standing on the other side of the security screening area. The phone had said she’d have another chance, but Eve had doubts.

Behind them, a man who had tried to take a pair of skis as a carryon suddenly fell forward as the moving walkway reversed itself. An entire line of people was thrown onto their faces, but the skis whipped forward. The only warning he had was the sudden mechanical grinding and the startled exclamations as finely honed edges of the skis carved into the back of Eve’s captor’s head. His grip faltered, only for a second, but it was enough. Eve yanked herself free faster than she would have believed she could. Her phone started to ring. In the moment between thought and action, she smirked inwardly; the ring was “Run Like Hell,” by Pink Floyd. She saw the second meathead take a step forward before she pivoted and sprinted back toward the gates.

I had planned on talking about a couple of personal matters right here, but I’m not at all sure that I want everyone reading about it right now. Suffice to say that although I’m winning the battle against my depression right now, there are still things happening in real life that I’m not a fan of. I’ll just do the best I can and hold tight the knowledge that I haven’t given up and people worry about me. Thanks.

  1. Sabrina says:

    I have a few comments and suggestions. The first is to find another way to reveal that Eve has no memory. Telling us straight out seems light a cheap short cut and a loss for words. If you can, try to convey that every seems very new and unfamiliar to Eve. I think that would help make the story a little more involved and fresh. The second, the phone seems a bit….. "Eagle-eye/matrix." Its kind of been done before, perhaps some kind of device which only plays music or has encrypted messages. It is intriguing to figure out why she has this phone, who gave it to her and why do these meatheads want her? Third, the phrase, "The press of humanity" does not conjure images of a exit on a plane, but rather a huge mechanical press making human-wine. It is an interesting attempt, but I don’t know how well it works. I think the way you describe the meathead guys, you really create a vivid image. The action words are easy to follow and not to complicate. I like that you are using more verbs this time around instead of stagnant descriptions.

  2. Alana says:

    I disagree with Sabrina on a couple of her points. I did not think the way you announced the amnesia was "cheap." You do build up suspense when you convey that she’s on an unfamiliar aircraft going to an unknown city, but you can’t really draw it out more than that because people are going to realize almost immediately that they can’t remember anything. Anyway, Justin as Narrator did not tell us straight out, the phone did. It would be unusual for this phone that’s trying to comfort her to say nothing about one of the most unsettling things that has happened to Eve.Speaking of which, I don’t find the phone played out at all, but I think it’s too early in the game to call it out – as readers, we don’t know why the phone does what it does or if it has any other abilities. If, later on, the phone turns out to be possessed by the angry spirit of a Japanese person, then we’ll talk, but I’m willing to give it a chance. And I completely disagree about the "press of humanity" thing. "A huge mechanical press making human-wine" is totally nonsensical to me, and any images a reader does get of squeezing people seem pretty apt given what’s going on.But I’m totally with her about everything else. Your description of the big men is chilling (no eyes – ugh), and your writing is getting stronger and stronger. I’m really looking forward to the next installment so I can find out what’s going on, so get on that. My only critical thoughts are about this passage:a man who had tried to take a pair of skis as a carryon suddenly fell forward as the moving walkway reversed itself. An entire line of people was thrown onto their faces, but the skis whipped forward. The only warning he had was the sudden mechanical grinding and the startled exclamations as finely honed edges of the skis carved into the back of Eve’s captor’s head.How does Eve know he tried to take them on as a carry-on? Is her memory coming back or is this a slipup? It’s hard to tell. I would also change "an entire line" to "the." The sentence that begins "the only warning he had" is roundabout and a little confusing when you focus on this random guy. Maybe just "The only warning Eve’s captor had was the blah blah blah carved into the back of his head." But silly nitpicks aside, I think you’re doing a really good job of moving the story along at a pace that’s suspenseful and exciting at the same time. Keep it up!Also – sucks that you have to find a diary to keep apart from your diary because too many people read it. It’s so stupid that you can’t adjust privacy settings on individual posts.

  3. Alana says:

    I know this is kind of a non-issue in the grand scheme of things, but i was discussing that "press of humanity" thing with my friend, and she said that because the word "humanity" represents an abstract concept, she interpreted it figuratively instead of literally, so maybe that’s what Sabrina was talking about. I still say context matters, too, though.

  4. Sabrina says:

    I would agree with Alana’s friend. "Press of humanity" makes me think of a big machine, where people are being mindlessly shuffled through and then squeezed, squashed and processed until they are nothing but a bloody pulp. But then again, when I see the "Ped X-ing" sign with a man and a woman on it, I think it looks like a man holding a woman are gun point. So…… I guess I don’t always see things the way they are intended.

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